Collapse OS the most cyberpunk system i’ve seen

Collapse OS

github of Collapse OS

source and original post on reddit.

Bootstrap post-collapse technology

Winter is coming and Collapse OS aims to soften the blow. It is a Forth (why Forth?) operating system and a collection of tools and documentation with a single purpose: preserve the ability to program microcontrollers through civilizational collapse. It is designed to:

  1. Run on minimal and improvised machines.
  2. Interface through improvised means (serial, keyboard, display).
  3. Edit text and binary contents.
  4. Compile assembler source for a wide range of MCUs and CPUs.
  5. Read and write from a wide range of storage devices.
  6. Assemble itself and deploy to another machine.

Additionally, the goal of this project is to be as self-contained as possible. With a copy of this project, a capable and creative person should be able to manage to build and install Collapse OS without external resources (i.e. internet) on a machine of her design, built from scavenged parts with low-tech tools.


The Collapse OS project is completed! It can be downloaded here. Highlights:

  • Can assemble Z80, AVR, 8086 and 6809 binaries.
  • Can program AVR microcontrollers.
  • Has a command line text editor similar to Forth’s traditional editor as well as a visual text editor inspired by UNIX’ VI.
  • Has a visual binary editor.
  • Has the full power of a reasonably well-featured Forth interpreter.
  • Known to run and self host on very tight machines across multiple CPUs. See hardware support list.
  • Exceedingly simple: Approximately 3 000 lines of “real” code (excludes extras, CVM, emulators, POSIX tools, doc, but includes everything a post-collapse computer would need to fullfill its purpose on all supported arches).
  • Has mass storage support. Currently on:
    • SD cards
    • 5 1/4″ floppies
  • Runs on any POSIX environment through a VM implemented in C.
  • Built from a POSIX environment with minimal tooling: only cc, make and curses are needed.

Getting started

Collapse OS can be downloaded here.

Documentation is in text files in “doc/”. Begin with “intro.txt”. Alternatively, James Stanley hosts an online Collapse OS documentation browser.

Collapse OS can run on any POSIX platform and builds easily. See “/cvm/README” for instructions.

Alternatively, there’s also Michael Schierl’s JS Collapse OS emulator which is awesome and allows you to run Collapse OS from your browser, but it isn’t always up to date. The “Javascript Forth” version is especially awesome: it’s not a z80 emulator, but a javascript port of Collapse OS!


You are inspired by Collapse OS and would like to fund its development? I don’t do any kind of crowdfunding, but if you happen to be a rich philanthropist, maybe we can do something.


The best place to discuss the project is on its private mailing list.

Collapse OS was previously hosted on Github and it has a few interesting discussions in its issues.

A lot of questions that you might have may already have been anwered in a big discussion about it occurred on Reddit. I’ve answered many questions there.

There was also a nice conversation on Hacker News about Collapse OS (and then another one and another one), but I didn’t participate because I don’t have a HN account. Also, this community doesn’t seem collapse-aware (although they did seem to warm up to the idea lately) so the idea of participation into this discussion seemed tedious to me. But the user “yellowapple” did a good job of answering many questions in a way that is similar to what I would have.

Related efforts

Here is a list of related efforts that I find noteworthy:

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